Santee Cooper Anticipates Rising Waccamaw Will Flood Ash Pond 1
CONWAY, S.C. – Based on river projections, Santee Cooper is expecting an overtopping of Grainger ash pond No. 1from the Waccamaw River before dawn Saturday morning. There is no significant environmental impact expected at this time, due to actions Santee Cooper has already taken in the pond.
River forecasts project the Waccamaw will reach a new historic flood level due to Hurricane Florence, eclipsing one set by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Over the past week, Santee Cooper has pumped water into the pond to balance the rising river levels. Our engineers believe this action means the structural integrity of the submerged dike will likely not be compromised.
Additionally, the utility has already excavated nearly all of the ash from pond 1, in an effort that began in 2014 and was on track to be complete in both ash ponds onsite within a few months.
“Santee Cooper will be monitoring the dike throughout the night and is prepared to make all appropriate notifications once it occurs,” said Jim Brogdon, interim president and CEO. “We are also are taking baseline surface water and sediment samples and will continue to sample the river and pond water after an overtopping, as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The second ash pond at the site has additional protection from the rising river, provided by an AquaDam, silt fencing and floating environmental containment boom that Santee Cooper has placed over the past week. Although most of the ash in pond 2 also has been excavated, an estimated 200,000 tons remain in a corner farthest away from the river.
Santee Cooper is monitoring river forecasts and does not expect the river to approach the top of the AquaDam for several more days. Based on current projections it is difficult to predict whether pond 2 will overtop, but if that were to occur, the preventative measures in place will mitigate potential impacts.